More than a thousand people, mostly young adults, held a rally opposite the Red Cross Headquarters in New York City on Wednesday in protest of the conditions of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit's imprisonment.
"We are fighting for Gilad's human rights. How can it be that Hamas prisoners in Gaza receive visitations and proper (living) conditions while Gilad is rotting in jail without our knowing how he is," protest organizer Hagit Hadar told Ynet.
The number of protestors, mostly high-school students, is intended to symbolize the 1,067 days Shalit has been held captive.
The protestors bore signs and t-shirts saying 'Meet with Shalit.' Shalit has received no visits since his June 2006 abduction from Israel in a cross-border raid carried out by Gaza terror groups. Little is known of his current condition and negotiations to secure his release have been stalled for some time.
Solidarity in the Big Apple (Photo: David Karp)
"For three years the Red Cross has done nothing to help Gilad," Hadar said, adding that despite the outturn and attention the protest has generated not a single Red Cross representative has yet to respond.
The initiative is a joint collaboration between the Jewish communities of New York, New Jersey and Long Island, and follows a visit by Gilad's father, Noam Shalit, to the United States on the eve of Israel's Memorial Day. The action committee is also planning to hold a protest outside the White House.
"This is a war for human rights," says Joe Kobi, a 16-year-old from Brooklyn. "We are all Jews and we are all brothers, Gilad is a brother. When Noam Shalit came to our school and told us about the rights prisoners get in Israel compared to Gilad's rights it pushed me to do more for him. It's wrong."